Vicky Ford MP joined teams from Essex & Suffolk Water and the Essex Waste Partnership to launch Refill Chelmsford on Saturday 29 September. The campaign aims to provide a network of cafes, shops, hotels and other businesses that will refill reusable water bottles for free - reducing our reliance on single use plastics.
Participating businesses can register on the Refill app and display a sticker in their window to show that they offer free tap water. The app also allows users to locate their nearest Refill station, so all they need to do is remember to carry a reusable bottle to stay topped up on the move.
A number of businesses in Chelmsford City Centre signed up to the scheme on the day, including Acanteen, Saracen′s Head Hotel, Preto Brazilian Steakhouse and Caffe Nero on the High Street.
Refill is a national initiative led by plastic pollution campaign group City to Sea, which is joining forces with water companies to create a national network of high street retailers, coffee shops, businesses and local authorities. It aims to provide Refill stations for the public to top-up their water bottles for free in every major city and town in England by 2021.
Essex & Suffolk Water is working in partnership with the Essex Waste Partnership to deliver the #RefillEssex scheme, alongside local volunteer groups and organisations.
Heidi Mottram, Chief Executive of Essex & Suffolk Water said: "We are really pleased to have launched the Refill scheme in Chelmsford, and want like to thank Vicky Ford MP for backing the campaign.
We want everyone in Chelmsford to really get behind Refill, so we can make it as easy as possible for people to stay hydrated with great tasting tap water on the move, and reject those single-use plastic bottles that can have such a devastating impact on our environment.
As an ethical company we are committed to leading the charge on this initiative, and we are really proud to be working alongside Essex Waste Partnership to deliver the scheme."
Cllr Simon Walsh, Chairman of Essex Waste Partnership said: "The Refill scheme provides a fantastic opportunity for local authorities and water companies to work with local businesses to provide free and easily accessible tap water to everyone in Essex.
Refill Essex will play an important role in promoting a more sustainable Essex, through the use of reusable water bottles at refill stations. Reusable items such as water bottles and coffee cups can dramatically decrease the number of single-use items being thrown away across Essex, which will also reduce litter."
Natalie Fee, founder of City to Sea, the organisation which is the driving force behind the Refill scheme, said: "Refill puts the power to stop plastic pollution in people′s hands - it′s a fantastically easy way to reduce your plastic consumption and save money at the same time. Businesses can add themselves to the app too and help create the wave of change needed to keep plastic bottles out of our oceans!"
Sarah Irving, North West and Anglian Regional Coordinator for Refill said: "We′re so excited that Essex is joining the Refill movement and making a real difference by reducing reliance on single-use plastics. Every time we refill a re-usable bottle we save our own money and the planet′s resources, and all those individual refills add up to a huge impact. It′s great to see so many local businesses supporting Refill Essex by signing up to provide free refills."
Water UK Chief Executive Michael Roberts said: "As an industry with a strong focus on the environment we are passionate about tackling the problems caused by plastic bottles, which clog up rivers and drains, and pollute our seas. By refilling water bottles, we can all help turn this harmful tide of plastic waste. This country has some of the best drinking water in the world and we want everyone to benefit from it. This scheme will do that by making it easier for people to refill their bottles wherever they work, rest, shop or play."
The Refill app can be downloaded on smart phones and tablets, while more information about the campaign is available at www.refill.org.uk. Businesses in Essex that would like more information about the scheme can contact email@example.com.